In theory, Instagram Stories can provide an outlet to upload your B-game content — videos and photos you want to share, but that aren’t quite up to snuff to be featured on your permanent grid. But, scroll through your stories feed and you’ll see that not everyone uses it that way: Some people are sharing seriously impressive Instagram stories, complete with fonts, designs and features that are nowhere to be found within the Instagram app itself. The results look downright professional, but you don’t have to hire (or be) a social media whiz to get on that level. You can elevate your stories to their A-game with the help of a few handy apps that Instagram experts themselves swear by.
Instagram makes it easy to share videos longer than 15 seconds on your stories — by simply breaking them up into multiple segments — but there’s also value in keeping your content concise. For doing so, Caley Dimmock, a brand and marketing consultant, recommended Video Mixer, which allows you to combine multiple videos. “Sometimes I prefer to stitch four to five clips together to create one 15-second segment instead of making people tap through four to five segments,” she said. “It’s also strategic because when people see that someone has a ton of segments at the top of the screen, they are more likely to exit their story before watching them all. By including it all in one, it’s just more effective and efficient for your followers.”
Canva is an app-of-all-trades when it comes to graphic design, making it easy to create everything from invitations to business cards, logos, website graphics and more. The app comes with thousands of professionally designed templates, including ones you can use for your Instagram Stories, whether on your personal account or to elevate your side-hustle. “Canva...is great for creating Instagram Story templates that are consistent and branded,” said Carolyn Jarrett, co-founder of Oak Street Social. “I especially love this option for sharing branded content, [such as blog posts], in a consistent way with an embedded link — if you have that feature.”
“Unfold...allow[s] you to create beautiful Instagram Stories utilizing their various templates,” said Calli Cholodenko, founder and CEO of Something Social. In fact, the app is wholly dedicated to stories; and it does its job well. You can choose from 25 free templates and 75 premium options that allow you to present photos and videos in eye-catching ways — whether by using frames that look like Polaroid prints, or by including multiple images in one well-designed slide — and add text with fonts unique from those supplied in-app on Instagram.
Who among us hasn’t been sucked in by a mesmerizing stop motion video on Instagram, whether of a recipe being made, an art project in the works or a cool travel scene? These videos tend to look very professional — and difficult to make — but there is an app that simplifies the process. “Since Stop Motion is all the rage, try Life Lapse, an easy-to-use app that makes cool stop motion animations and videos achievable, even for the novice ’grammer,” Jarrett said.
Swish makes it easy to customize those quick phone videos you took by providing user-friendly templates and editing options. “To use it, you simply replace the template video with your own and edit the text, font and colors; and you have a really quick way to make an attention-grabbing story,” Dimmock said. “The app also includes a selection of background music you can use. Most of the examples [shown on the app] are being used for business videos, but it makes a great way to set your personal stories apart.”
If you want to clean up your photos before sharing them on your stories, Alaina Kaczmarski, co-founder and editor at The Everygirl, LLC, recommended the popular photo-editing app, TouchRetouch. “It’s like having a mini Photoshop on your phone,” she said. “It’s great for quickly removing unwanted items like shadows, photobombers from travel photos, cords and outlets from interiors shots, wrinkles from clothing or blemishes off faces. Plus, it’s a very low learning curve — you can do all of it with the touch of a button.”